Frequently Asked Questions About Retractable Awnings

Looking into the market for retractable awnings, you may be wondering how to find an option that suits your location. Every site and application will have their quirks, and it's a good idea to learn some of the basics.

How Big Can an Awning Be?

Most companies in the business offer models that extend out, at most, 14 to 16.5 feet. SunSetter awnings, for example, include a maximum six of 16 feet by 10 feet. You'll generally see these models designed for commercial applications, such as covering the poolside areas at hotels. Notably, you can pair awnings to cover more space horizontally.

Bear in mind that the larger an awning is, the greater the threat it poses to a building in high winds when fully extended. Some models incorporate high-wind warning sensors that will retract the awning during gusty weather, but these tend to add to the price.

Deployment Types

There are two types of arms that deploy retractable awnings. A retractable lateral arm model extends from a rooftop or the side of a building where it is externally mounted to supply shade. Side or drop arm models can be retracted into housings for storage, making them more visually appealing when not in use.

Durability Factors

Retractable awnings should deliver at least 10 years of service. If you live in a region that gets a lot of sunlight, such as the American southwest, you should keep an eye on fading of the canvas caused by UV rays. Should you live in a low-sun and low-wind area, it's worth considering just replacing the motor when it burns out.

Folks who live in extremely high-humidity regions need to make a point of extending their awnings on sunny days even if it is cool to deter the potential growth of mold. This should not harm the fabric, as most models use a woven acrylic that holds up well in damp environs and with regular cleaning.

Cost Considerations

Not surprisingly, retractable awnings vary significantly in price, from just over $1,000 to more than $5,000. You can chip away at the price a little by purchasing a hand-crank model, but motors will only typically add a few hundred dollars to the price. Installing one yourself may also help you save a little bit of money. If you do have professionals install an awning, you should be able to find several companies that offer free consultations.